Loving: today.

This morning we got off to a rocky, tantrum-y start; I even had the thought, “Oh, no! It’s only 8:30am and I’ve already had it up to HERE with being a mom!” …but things got better as soon as I took the girls to the Gateway Children’s Museum. They had so much fun playing in the water, “shopping,” climbing up stuff, and decorating paper stockings. We were the only ones who signed up for the stocking class, so they had the whole quiet craft room to themselves. It was such a nice note to end on, and the girls were both perfectly behaved–Mary didn’t even poop until we got back home. So considerate of her.

Lydia and I spent Mary’s nap reading a bunch of Christmas stories and playing the Primary book’s Christmas songs together, and at dinner I almost lost my voice cheering for every single bite Lydia took of her squash. (She took approximately 30…I lost count around 23 because around then I started cheering and playing high-five and tickle/hug games with Lydia in between each bite.) I cuddled Mary a lot, and basically enjoyed my children for the rest of the day. I ended up LOVING being a mom today.

After the kids went down, I learned a really simple, sweet piece called “Shepherd Boy,” by Grieg. The meditative, soft progression of the notes helped me reflect on the Good Shepherd and on the shepherds that visited Jesus. Considering one of my recording deadlines is fast approaching (the end of December–YIKES!), this was ultimately a foolish way to spend the limited time I have at the piano. But it also made my evening feel perfect, so I guess I don’t regret it that much.

I then discovered that Talenti ice cream containers are the perfect way to store the lemon curd I made today. I polished off the rest of the ice cream just in case I need another container tomorrow…

lemon curd.

My friend, Cierra, gave me this recipe. It didn’t turn out like hers because I had to attend to several emergencies while I was supposed to be stirring, but it was still delicious. Here’s where she got her recipe.

The only thing that would make the evening even better is if Abe had not JUST started his trip home from Rock Springs. I hate him traveling those middle-of-nowhere roads in the middle of the night, but guess what? This is his last trip with Guardsmark! Hip, hip, hooray!

And so for today’s pictures:

Why did I cuddle Mary so much today? Well, she missed her morning nap because of our outing, and she was a little sad for the rest of the day. Also, she kept getting stuck on this chair.

Why did I cuddle Mary so much today? Well, she missed her morning nap because of our outing, and she was a little sad for the rest of the day. Also, she kept getting stuck on this chair.

I forgot to post this picture from yesterday. Isn't it cute?

I forgot to post this picture from yesterday. Isn’t it cute?

potty rides and piano

When I wasn’t practicing piano today, I was either lying in bed or feeding my children. I’ve had a headache that I only forget to notice when I’m super focused (e.g., on the piano), so it’s been hard to get much done. Oh! But I did have a play date with Aria, Espen and Enna, which made the morning a delight. Enna waved to me! And I guess I did the treadmill this morning, so there was some activity in the day. Just not a lot.

Lydia, on the other hand had a TON of activity today. Since I was out of commission, she just ran around the house playing pretend the entire day. Even at meals she would pretend her utensils were Abe, Mary, her and me, and she’d say stuff like, “We are togever foh-ever, Ma-wee!” (Translation: “We are together forever, Mary!”).

I forgot to write down a cute exchange we had yesterday. I had been reprimanding Lydia a lot, and as I was practicing, I heard suspicious sounds coming from the kitchen. “Lydia, what are you doing?” I called out. There was a pause. “Mama, I don’t know,” came Lydia’s extremely exasperated reply. “Just pway the pwano, okay?” (Turns out she was engaging in one of her favorite forbidden activities: eating butter. Today I gave her a little lesson on how arteries clog up, and she hasn’t touched the butter since.)

Here are today’s pictures:

Before he left for work this morning, Abe gave the girls a ride.

Before he left for work this morning, Abe gave the girls a ride. Lydia’s wearing the same outfit she wore yesterday because, well, she never quite made it into pj’s last night. When she woke up, she was already dressed, so why make more work for everyone?

I made garlic mashed potatoes and wilted kale, and called it dinner.

I made garlic mashed potatoes and wilted kale and called that dinner. No one seemed to mind.

Before bed the girls got rides on the magic potty seat.

Before bed the girls got rides on the magic potty seat.

One of the girls got a faster ride than the other...

One of the girls got a faster ride than the other…

desultory paragraphs posing as a post

What, oh what to write about today. Well, whenever I run on the treadmill, I watch Youtube videos of various pianists. I love these videos so much that I am currently watching one (a master class Van Cliburn gave in Moscow) as I blog, so excuse the desultory nature of the blog I am about to write.

I got in three hours of practice today, which felt great. But by far the best part of today occurred after dinner when Abe, Lydia and I cuddled up on the couch to watch The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. Lydia spent the whole movie with her hands daintily clasped in happy anticipation of the Ghost of Christmas Future, but as soon as he made an appearance, she made an urgent plea for us to change the movie. Abe and I hugged her and reassured her, and she got to see that the Ghost of Christmas Future wasn’t quite as scary as she’d anticipated. Honestly, my eyes are so tired of screens that I spent most of the movie watching Lydia and listening to her commentary. That made my whole night.

Here are the pictures from today:

I tried this for the first time today. I found Lydia playing on the potty playing with her poop(!!!), so she had an impromptu shower. Since her hair was wet, I decided to try this braid out. It's not very even, but it's also much easier than I supposed.

I tried this for the first time today. I found Lydia playing on the potty playing with her poop(!!!), so she had an impromptu shower. Since her hair was wet, I decided to try this braid out. It’s not very even, but it’s also much easier than I supposed.

Lydia got to do my hair after i did hers.

Lydia got to do my hair after i did hers.

I vacuumed today. The whole time Mary was (happily) stuck in the basket she'd climbed into.

I vacuumed today. The whole time Mary was (happily) stuck in the basket she’d climbed into.

Lydia attired herself thus (this is chronologically out of order...pre-poop) and colored while I cleaned.

Lydia attired herself thus (this is chronologically out of order…pre-poop) and colored while I cleaned.

The girls matched today. That's Lydia dancing in the background.

The girls matched today. That’s Lydia dancing in the background.

After the girls decided not to take an afternoon nap, I took them to Tony Caputo’s for cheese and happy hippos.

This is what Mary looked like after her happy hippo.

This is what Mary looked like after her happy hippo.

The girls took a 20 minute nap at 6am, which gave me a head start on dinner. I made mac 'n cheese with Teleggio. Frankly, that was irresponsible in light of Abe's new, decreased salary. Also, I discovered that Teleggio is way better in fondue than in mac 'n cheese.

The girls took a 20 minute nap at 6am, which gave me a head start on dinner. I made mac ‘n cheese with Teleggio. Frankly, that was irresponsible in light of Abe’s new, decreased salary. Also, I discovered that Teleggio is way better in fondue than in mac ‘n cheese. The whole point of mac’n cheese is to comfort and feel familiar. Teleggio messes that all up.

This was the mess I decided not to clean this morning. Right now the room looks AMAZING, thanks to Abe's efforts while I blogged away. I would take a picture, but the camera card is in my computer, so you'll just have to trust me: He did a great job.

This was the mess I decided not to clean this morning. Right now the room looks AMAZING, thanks to Abe’s efforts while I blogged away. I would take a picture, but the camera card is in my computer, so you’ll just have to trust me: He did a great job.

 

Dinner with Jessica

Lydia had two nightmares last night, so her 7am request for tape (to fix one of the books she accidentally broke in her sleep) came a little early today. I felt like such a zombie this morning, and that feeling gave me a lot more compassion for my excessively low productivity/activity level this past three years. If I felt that sleep deprived (and let’s be honest, having a newborn and/or pregnancy is light years away from a mere two-nightmare night), then I should be celebrating the fact that I even managed to function at all.  Piano practice and cooking school would not even be remote possibilities under that level of fatigue.

During Mary’s nap, I made a beeline for bed. After that, I felt much better. So much better that I took the kids to the grocery store and the library. Then I cooked for the rest of the day because my responsible friend from cooking school, Jessica, came over for dinner.

She is a passionate foodie, so I wanted to try something I hadn’t done before. After scrolling through food blogs, I settled upon this post. Don’t those squash rings look dear? Well, let me tell you: They’re insanely, ridiculously complicated, especially if you, like me, have no knife skills to speak of. I practically lost my hand trying to cut those stupid squash rings, and finally, after hacking an entire acorn squash to bits and getting one ONE measly little ring out of it, I said to heck with it. Stuffed squash for dinner it was.

I should have glazed the squash with butter and maple syrup, but I was so demoralized by my cutting fiasco that I neglected the rest of the instructions.

Looks dry, doesn’t it? I should have glazed the squash with butter and maple syrup, but I was so demoralized by my cutting fiasco that I neglected to follow the rest of the directions.

By the time I took this picture, I had put the rest of the food (whipped sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli) away. Dessert was still on the table though.

Chocolate amaretto cake. Basically, you grind up amaretto cookies, zest some orange, melt some chocolate, add eggs and sugar, bake and voila! For the real recipe, click here.

Chocolate amaretto cake. Basically, you grind up amaretto cookies, zest some orange, melt some chocolate, add eggs and sugar, bake and voila! For the real recipe, click here. I can actually really vouch for this one–I’ve done it many times, and it’s pretty foolproof.

We so enjoyed our time with Jessica. We learned a lot about the military (she spent ten years in it, and even was in the head trauma unit in both Iraq and Afghanistan), and I had my heartstrings pulled by her personal stories. What a wonderful person.

In kid-related news, Mary has now learned to climb the stove. I kid you not. Tomorrow I will try to rearrange the kitchen, but in the meantime I have random pieces of furniture strewn everywhere from my various attempts to block her progress.

This is where she perched while I cooked. She'd alternate between eating her amaretto cookie and standing up to see if she could reach anything interesting on the counter.

This is where she perched while I cooked. She’d alternate between eating her amaretto cookie and standing up to see if she could reach anything interesting on the counter.

posting a little late (or super early, depending…)

Didn’t post last night because I was feeling icky. We have a terrible inversion in Salt Lake, and I think the air is actually making me sick.

Anyway, after not sleeping much last night, I decided to get up early and blog. Grandma, I love you, and I want you to have something new to see today…although it’s probably not that exciting!

Here are the pics from yesterday:

After all of the obstacle course training, Mary is unstoppable. You are probably wondering why I am not running to get her down, but listen. She does stuff like this all day long, and I'm just glad she's not on the table. (I would forgo the picture and get her down if she had succeeded in getting on that table.)

After all of the obstacle course training, Mary is unstoppable. You are probably wondering why I am not running to get her down, but listen. She does stuff like this all day long, and I’m just glad she’s not on the table. (I would forgo the picture and get her down if she had succeeded in getting on that table.)

The girls played with my embroidery hoop all day. Here's Lydia telling us that she's wearing a crown. Mary preferred to wear it like a necklace while performing her climbing tricks.

The girls played with my embroidery hoop all day. Here’s Lydia telling us that she’s wearing a crown. Mary preferred to wear it like a necklace while performing her climbing tricks.

Also, I made sloppy lentils. I love sloppy joe's, but I don't love the meat. This has everything good about a sloppy joe with the added benefit of the lentils.

Also, I made sloppy lentils. I love sloppy joe’s, but I don’t love the meat. This has everything good about a sloppy joe with the added benefit of lentils. I found the recipe here.

 

Let’s see. We went to the Schulz’s house for a play date in the morning with Sarah, Nathan, and Hannah, and then we came home for the rest of the day. I fed and bathed the girls early, and we spent hours playing in their room. Well, the girls were playing. I just lay there while they sat on my face and climbed all over me. For some reason, they thought my sputtering and saying “OW!!” was hilarious, so that game lasted about an hour.

Couldn’t cull the pics properly today…

In Sunday school today we had a lesson on one of my favorite topics, Zion. In Relief Society we discussed the mission of Jesus Christ (a lesson which Abe taught in Elder’s Quorum, and which intimidated him to no end). In Sacrament we had a fantastic Christmas program…but even after all of that, I didn’t feel like my day was super spiritually charged. I did feel uplifted, though, so church was not totally in vain.

Also, at the Linger Longer after church, we collected the pics of the girls with Santa from the ward Christmas party. Abe took the girls by himself to the party, so this is the first time I've seen these pictures. Note Lydia's finger up her nose. They retook the picture a TON of times before they got the bottom two with her finger out of her nose.

Also, at the Linger Longer after church, we collected the pics of the girls with Santa from the ward Christmas party. Abe took the girls by himself to the party, so this is the first time I’ve seen these pictures. Note Lydia’s finger up her nose. They retook the picture a TON of times before they got the bottom two with her finger out of her nose.

I spent most of the rest of the day in bed, although our home teachers came over to drop off some gorgeous cookies. I also played with my family and threw some cauliflower in the oven before we went over to a family party at the Miners’.

Abe pretended to be Santa and interviewed the girls. The pig puppet play was Mary's reward for being such a good girl.

Abe pretended to be Santa and interviewed the girls. The pig puppet play was Mary’s reward for being such a good girl. (Grandma, do you recognize that hat?)

Here's Lydia telling Santa about how good she's been.

Here’s Lydia telling Santa about how good she’s been.

Here's Lydia demonstrating to Santa her ability to share with Mary.

Here’s Lydia demonstrating to Santa her ability to share with Mary.

Santa was so proud.

Santa was so proud.

...And so Lydia got a puppy!

…And so Lydia got a puppy!

She was pleased.

She was pleased.

After that we played "fetch" with the puppy and Mary. Here's Mary throwing.

After that we played “fetch” with the puppy and Mary. Here’s Mary throwing.

Also proud of herself.

Also proud of herself.

And then I told Santa I wanted a snack, so the girls helped out and baked me a feast.

And then I told Santa I wanted a snack, so the girls helped out and baked me a feast.

Then I stopped taking pictures because my hands became full of “food.”

After a delicious evening at the Miners’, we came home and discovered that our friend, Aria, had dropped off some treats for us. I love Christmas.

Of snowmen and Christmas concerts

Lydia woke up this morning screaming for chicken nuggets, which is especially funny since she’s only had them once (when we were desperate on a road trip over a year ago), and she threw them up an hour later. Abe and I spent the rest of the morning in a tired fog, and I lay in bed procrastinating my final project until noon.

We did, however, work in a Skype visit with my mom and grandma, during which they watched Lydia run through the extra-elaborate obstacle course Abe set up this morning. While he was setting it up, I was lying in bed. He kept coming over and asking for pillow after pillow until he sheepishly asked for the last one. I lay flat on my pillowless perch until we Skyped. It was pretty funny.

After I finally typed up my final, we slowly collected ourselves for our afternoon errands. Just as we were about to get in the car, Abe tested the snow and asked if he could have ten more minutes to build a snowman with the girls. Um, of course!

Building.

Building.

Bonding.

Bonding.

 

The finished product

The finished product.

Then we swung by the library and went clothes shopping for Abe. His new job is much more casual than his current job, and most of Abe’s casual clothes date back to college, high school, or even (in some choice cases), middle school. We bought him two pairs of jeans and a shirt. It’s a start.

Then we came home, and I vacuumed the most offensively dirty carpets in the house while Abe got dinner ready and fed the girls. We then rushed to bathe the girls because guess what? A couple days ago, Misty called and offered us some tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert at the Conference Center. Misty is the kind of friend you want to have.

We gleefully accepted her kind offer, and tonight we had such a wonderful time at the concert. The Church pulls out all the stops for its Christmas concert, and there are just no words to communicate the feast this event is for the eyes, ears, and heart. John Rhys-Davies (Gimli in Lord of the Rings) and Deborah Voigt were spectacular. John Rhys-Davies narrated the tale of how Charles Dickens came up with A Christmas Carol, and at one point he and another actor flew across the 20,000 audience members. He also read Luke 2…I wish I had a recording, because I would just play that on Christmas and call the rest of the holiday good. Deborah Voigt’s voice had me crying in song #1, and Richard Elliot’s arrangement of God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman on the organ was as acrobatic as it was, in John Rhys-Davies’ words, “pure genius.”

The program

The program

IMG_5799

After our joyful experience at the concert, Abe and I went about the more pragmatic task of grocery shopping. But hey, at 10pm, it felt kind of like an extension of our date. I’ll take it!

Almost. Done.

Tomorrow I turn in my last final. I just submitted my second final project (due yesterday) online. At class tonight I submitted the project I did yesterday night. I am tired. And so, without further ado, here are today’s pictures:

We had a play date and dinner, with our friend, Jill, and her four kids.

We had a play date and dinner, with our lovely friend, Jill, and her four sweet kids. Her husband is deployed right now, and I have no idea how she does it. But she is amazing, and she does it.

I came upstairs to discover Lydia trying to convince Megan, Lillian, and Nolan to watch her go potty. Maybe we have praised her too much; she now thinks that going to the potty is akin to a performing art--something everyone would enjoy seeing!

I came upstairs to discover Lydia trying to convince Megan, Lillian, and Nolan to watch her go potty. Maybe we have praised her too much; she now thinks that going to the potty is akin to a performing art–something everyone would enjoy seeing.

An attempt at an Abe-centric post–and a video!!!

While I was trying Abe’s patience yet again this afternoon, obsessing over the question, “Am I or am I not a narcissist?” (the fact that this question consumes me on an almost daily basis seems to point to the rather unfortunate, albeit clear, answer…), he did mention that he doesn’t show up much in my blog.

AGHHH!! SO I REALLY AM ONE!!! My sweet husband, who has never said a negative thing about anyone, did not answer my question directly, but instead mildly noted his absence in my posts.

So today, instead of recording the details of my life that feel important to me (such as the fact that I am going to bed in the same outfit I wore yesterday, last night, and all day today, with the only difference being that from last night on I have not enjoyed the support of a bra), today I am determined to focus on the love of my life, my husband.

He is a wonderful dad, a perfect husband, and is in every way a superior human being to myself; it is therefore extremely unfortunate that he doesn’t show up more in this chronicle of our life. This blog would be a cheerier, holier, funnier place with more Abe and less Lily.

I give you this video of his evening with the girls. They set up an obstacle course, and by the time this video was filmed, the girls had run the course at least three times. Mary was all giggles, squeals, and smiles for rounds 1-3, but in the video she was a wee bit tired and more easily frustrated. My favorite part is at minute 4:14, where you can hear Abe direct Lydia to put a pillow under Mary’s perch so Mary doesn’t plummet and hurt herself. He and I think so differently, sometimes…Anyway, here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcDbnDf1RUg&feature=youtu.be

And here are the pictures from my day. I wish I had pictures from Abe’s, but in lieu of photographic evidence, here’s what he did, as far as I know: He went to work. He came home. He listened to me talk his ear off about myself. He watched the kids. He cleaned the house. He worked on his computer. He listened to me play the piano and provided great feedback. And right now he’s exhausted, so here I go posting my pictures for real, now:

Lydia insisted on wearing her owl costume today.

Lydia insisted on wearing her owl costume today.

She also wore an apron I decorated when I was little. (We rolled, cut out, and baked the rest of Monday's cookie dough today.)

She also wore an apron I decorated when I was little. (We rolled, cut out, and baked the rest of Monday’s cookie dough today.)

 

Mary was a little clingy today.

Mary was a little clingy today.

Mary sat with Lydia at the kid table for the first time today. This delighted both girls to no end.

Mary sat with Lydia at the kid table for the first time today. This delighted both girls to no end.

Before I took the girls outside...Mary was having trouble balancing.

Before I took the girls outside, Mary was having trouble balancing.

Can you see the beginnings of the snow fort Abe helped them start building? They LOVE it!

Can you see the beginnings of the snow fort Abe helped them start building? They LOVE it!

Before her nap, Lydia took a look at my feet and furrowed her brow. Then she said, "Actually, Mama, can I have one of your striped socks?" I acquiesced and handed over both for good measure. Minutes later she emerged from her bedroom with both of my socks on. In the video, you can see them dragging.

Before her nap, Lydia took a look at my feet and furrowed her brow. Then she said, “Actually, Mama, can I have one of your striped socks?” I acquiesced and handed over both for good measure. Minutes later she emerged from her bedroom with both of my socks on. She wore them for the rest of the day. In the video, you can see them dragging (until she pulls them off at the end of the clip).

Abe pretended to be an elephant before setting up the obstacle course. Here are the girls running away from the big, scary elephant.

Abe pretended to be an elephant before setting up the obstacle course. Here are the girls running away from the big, scary elephant. 

yucky imagery and my conversion to Harmon’s

So yesterday ended on a high note, and this morning was a hard fall back to reality. Lydia got spanked three times before 7:10am (and Abe was traveling, so guess who the mean parent was?). I felt so bad for the rest of the morning–especially since Lydia was so remorseful and apologized out of the blue hours later. (I spanked her because she started screaming when I told her it was still dark out and she needed to go back to bed. I was afraid she’d wake Mary, but in retrospect I wish I had been a lot more patient.)

But she perked up at preschool with her friends, so that was happy. While Lydia was at preschool, I took Mary to the library for story time. She loved it, and I was so happy to have some time to focus on her the way I used to focus on Lydia. We checked out more books, and then I picked Lydia up early from preschool because Mary was getting tired and needed to nap.

After story time, Mary ventured over to play with some other children.

After story time, Mary ventured over to play with some other children.

After I brought the girls home, I got an hour of practice in and cooked dinner while Mary napped and Lydia watched Sesame Street. When Mary woke up, I fed the girls and then put them down for quiet time and naps again. Lydia begged me for an hour and a half to tuck her in for a nap, but I was so busy feeding Mary and cooking dinner that by the time I got around to it, the poor thing was exhausted and didn’t wake up until I woke her.

I stuffed chard with lentils, rice, corn, raisins, and Myzithra cheese, and then i covered it all in tomato sauce. I am hoping culinary school will help me figure out how to make stuffed chard attractive; I tried taking pictures of the individual rolls, but they looked too similar to green poop to post.

I stuffed chard with lentils, rice, corn, raisins, and Myzithra cheese, and then i covered it all in tomato sauce. I am hoping culinary school will help me figure out how to make stuffed chard attractive; I tried taking pictures of the individual rolls, but they looked too similar to green poop to post. Here they just kind of look like vomit and blood (sorry for the imagery! But it’s accurate, don’t you think?)

I then packed the kids into the car and met Abe at his office, where I handed over the kids before heading to class. Today we took a field trip to Harmon’s, and after all the stuff we learned tonight, I will be taking the business I currently give to Whole Foods over to Harmon’s. The knowledge of the staff, the loyalty they have to their store, and the quality of the products was mind blowing. There are times when the fish you see in their display is a mere four hours from being caught in the ocean. !!!!! Does that not blow your mind? It blew mine. Also, our Whole Foods has been cutting down its produce section, while Harmon’s produce section is expansive, fresh and seductive. All around, I am now a Harmon’s fan.

I also found out that my final projects are due THIS FRIDAY (and Saturday, for my online class). Can you believe how fast that went? I can’t, especially since I haven’t started my projects. Guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow!